Ayo Akinola scored a pair of goals, but the Toronto FC defense collapsed in the dying minutes as ten-man D.C. United clawed back to earn a point in their MLS is Back Tournament opener.
D.C. United looked lost at halftime after Akinola’s two goals and Junior Moreno’s second unsporting behavior yellow card, but a determined late second half charge led to two goals in seven minutes as the game finished in an unlikely 2-2 draw.
Federico Higuain scored what looked like nothing more than a consolation goal in the 84th minute when he collected an through ball from Felipe behind the Toronto defense and chipped a shot over Quentin Westberg. Toronto continued to control possession after the goal, but D.C. managed to grab an equalizer with a 91st minute free kick.
Felipe’s take found Steve Birnbaum’s head and then looped towards Frederic Brillant for the headed finish, giving D.C. an unlikely point to start the tournament.
Toronto had one last chance to score a winner deep into stoppage time. Akinola rose to get a free header at the top of the six-yard box in the 96th minute, but Bill Hamid palmed it away as he smacked into the goal post.
Akinola’s first goal in the 12th minute was a very impressive shot that required fancy footwork when he was all alone between four D.C. defenders. He weaved to the top of the penalty area and uncorked a laser that flew past a helpless Bill Hamid and inside the far post.
His second was a much easier finish. It came thanks to Brillant losing the ball deep in his own half, allowing Alejandro Pozuelo to pounce on it before picking out Akinola for the easy tap in.
Tempers flared after the match as Toronto FC’s frustrations boiled over into some screaming, pushing, and shoving after the match. The brief scuffle dissipated after a few minutes.
Toronto FC returns to Group C action on Thursday at 8 p.m. with a 401 Derby against the Montreal Impact while D.C. United returns to play at 8 p.m. on Friday against the New England Revolution.
Man of the Match
Ayo Akinola scored twice for Toronto FC and it’s a shame for him that his defense couldn’t hold out for the victory.
Moment of the Match
Frederic Brillant made up for his earlier mistake by scoring the unexpected equalizer.
Match to Forget
Laurent Ciman was to blame on both D.C. United goals, delivering the bad pass that was turned into a counter which he was then beaten badly on, and then losing his mark on the D.C. United equalizer.